Date of Original Version
Natural Resources Science
The maintenance or creation of early successional habitat is commonly employed by natural resource managers, often for the benefit of native wildlife. In southern New England, USA, forest succession has reduced the amount of early successional habitat on the landscape making the creation of such habitat a management priority in the region. However, questions remain regarding the impacts of the creation of early successional habitat on certain species, especially those that are associated with late successional habitats. We conducted a radio-telemetry study of Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) in Rhode Island, USA, for one year before, and one year after a 3-ha forest clear-cut in close proximity to wetlands known to contain a resident population of the species. The annual home range size of turtles was 18.5% larger post-cut, possibly due to changes in the distribution of resources and suitable habitat after the harvest. However, turtles exhibited fidelity to hibernacula and communal overwintering, despite nearby disturbance, and patterns of activity and habitat use were similar in both years and were generally consistent with those of other Spotted Turtle populations. Our results suggest that timber harvesting of this spatial scale and management approach may not have any short-term effects on the spatial ecology or habitat use of populations of Spotted Turtles, but further research is needed to understand longer-term effects. We strongly recommend that the timing of clear-cut harvesting be restricted to outside of the region-specific activity season of this species and that land managers avoid significant disturbance to wetlands containing Spotted Turtles, especially those containing hibernacula.
Buchanan, S. W., Buffum, B., & Karraker, N. E. (2017). Responses of a Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) Population to Creation of Early-successional Habitat. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 12(3), 688-700. Retrieved from http://www.herpconbio.org/Volume_12/Issue_3/Buchanan_etal_2017.pdf